[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]

This webpage reproduces a Book of
The Histories


published in Vol. VI
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Book XXX

(Vol. VI) Polybius
The Histories

 p47  Fragments of Book XXIX

I. Affairs of Italy

Speech of Aemilius Paullus

(Cp. Livy XLIV.22.8)

1 1 For Aemilius said that the sole occupation of some people, whether at social gatherings or in their conversation when walking, was to sit quietly at Rome while they directed the war in Macedonia, sometimes finding fault with what the commanders did and at others dilating on all they had left undone, 2 all which was never of any benefit to the public interest, but had frequently and in many respects been most injurious to it. And the commanders too are at times much injured by inopportune prating. 3 For as all slander has something sharp and provocative in it, when the minds of the people become prejudiced against them owing to this constant chatter, our enemies come to despise them.

Dispatch of Legates to Antiochus by the Senate

2 1 The senate, when they heard that Antiochus had become master of Egypt and very nearly of Alexandria itself, 2 thinking that the aggrandizement of this king concerned them in a measure, dispatched  p49 Gaius Popilius as their legate 3 to bring the war to an end, and to observe what the exact position of affairs was. 4 Such was the situation in Italy.

II. The War with Perseus

Genthius joins Perseus

(Cp. Livy XLIV.23)

3 1 On the return before winter of Hippias, who had been sent by Perseus to Genthius to treat for an alliance, 2 and on his reporting that that prince was ready to enter upon war with Rome if he received three hundred talents and proper sureties all round, Perseus, 3 on hearing this, in the belief that the co-operation of Genthius was an urgent necessity, appointed Pantauchus, one of his "first friends," his envoy, and dispatched him with instructions to consent 4 in the first place to give the money, and then to exchange oaths of alliance. In the next place Genthius was to send at once such hostages as Pantauchus chose, while he was to receive from Perseus such hostages as he should name in writing. 5 Finally Pantauchus was to make arrangements for the conveyance of the three hundred talents. The envoys started at once, and, on arriving at Meteon in Labeatis where he met Genthius, very soon induced the young man to throw in his fortunes with Perseus. 6 After the oaths of alliance had been taken and the terms put in writing, Genthius at once sent off the hostages of whom Pantauchus gave him a list, and in company with them Olympion to receive  p51 the oaths and the hostages from Perseus, sending at the same time others to take charge of the money. 7 In addition to what I have stated, Pantauchus persuaded Genthius to send back with him envoys of his own who should join the mission that Perseus was sending to Rhodes to secure the alliance of that state with both of them. 8 For if this was done and the Rhodians too embarked on the war, he assured him it would be quite easy to overcome the Romans. 9 Genthius was persuaded to act as requested, and, naming Parmenion and Morcus his envoys, dispatched them, instructing them, as soon as Perseus had taken the oath, and an agreement was come to about the money, to proceed to Rhodes.

4 1 All these persons now went on their way to Macedonia, while Pantauchus remaining behind beside the young man kept on reminding him and urging him not to be behindhand in his preparations, but to get all ready, and secure in due time places, towns, and allies. 2 He particularly requested him to prepare for war by sea, since, the Romans being quite unprepared in this respect on the coasts of Epirus and Illyria, he would with very little trouble in person and through his officers be able to carry out any maritime project he wished. 3 Genthius, then, convinced by those arguments, was occupied in preparing himself by land and sea. 4 Perseus, on the arrival in Macedonia of the envoys Genthius and the hostages,  p53 starting from his camp near the river Elpeius with all his cavalry, went to meet them all at Dium 5 and on doing so took the oath of alliance in the presence of all the cavalry; for he particularly wished that the Macedonians should be aware of the co-operation of Genthius, thinking that the addition of this force to the scale would increase their confidence. 6 He next received the hostages, and handed over his own to Olympion. The most distinguished of these latter were Limnaeus the son of Polemocrates and Balacrus the son of Pantauchus. 7 Perseus next sent those who had come to get the money to Pella where they would receive it, and the envoys for Rhodes he sent to Thessalonica to meet Metrodorus, ordering them to be in readiness to embark. He succeeded in indu­cing the Rhodians to join in the war. 8 After accomplishing this he sent as envoy to Eumenes Herophon, who had already served in that capacity, and Telemnastus the Cretan to Antiochus, 9 urging him not to neglect this opportunity, nor think that the arrogance and oppression of the Romans were confined to himself, 10 but to recognize clearly that if he did not at present also come to his assistance, either, as was best, by putting an end to the war, or, if not, by helping in it, he would soon experience the same fate.

Intrigues of Perseus and Eumenes

(Cp. Livy XLIV.24.9)

5 1 About this I was quite at a loss what to do. For to write in detail and with precision about matters which the kings managed between themselves and secretly, seemed to me to be open to criticism and exceedingly hazardous; 2 but to pass over in complete  p55 silence matters which seem to have had more practical effect than any others in the war, matters which enable us to detect the causes of much that was afterwards difficult to explain, appeared to me to be decidedly indicative of indolence and entire lack of enterprise. 3 However, I persuaded myself to state in a summary fashion my own opinion and the indications and probabilities which led me to form this opinion, living as I did at the time and having been more impressed by everything that happened than anyone else.

6 1 I have already stated that Cydas the Cretan, who was serving under Eumenes and held in especial honour by him, first of all came to Amphipolis and communicated with Cheimarus a Cretan soldier in the service of Perseus, and on a second occasion at Demetrias actually came up to the wall, and held converse first with Menecrates and afterwards with Antimachus. 2 And again that Herophon was twice sent by Perseus on a mission to Eumenes, and that in consequence of this, most of the Romans had a not unfounded suspicion of King Eumenes, is clear from their treatment of Attalus. 3 For they allowed the latter to come to Rome from Brundisium and address the senate on any subject he chose, and at last sent him back after replying courteously to him, although he had not given any great assistance either previously or in the war with Perseus; 4 but as for Eumenes, who had been of the greatest service to them and given them the greatest assistance in their wars against Antiochus and Perseus, they not only prevented him from coming up to Rome, but ordered  p57 him, though it was in the middle of winter, to leave Italy in a given number of days. 5 From all this it is obvious that there had been some approaches made to Eumenes by Perseus, which caused this marked estrangement on the part of the Romans. 6 As to what these were and how far they went it is open for us to inquire. 7 1 It is quite easy to see that Eumenes would not have wished Perseus to win the war and become absolute master of Greece. 2 For, apart from their inherited dislike and hostility, the fact that they ruled over subjects of the same nation was sufficient to create between them distrust and jealousy and in general the strongest antipathy. 3 The only object they could have had, then, was to deceive and trick each other by secret intrigues, and this is what they both were doing. 4 For as he saw that Perseus was in an evil case, hemmed in on all sides, and ready to accept any terms in order to get peace, each year sending messages to the Roman commanders for this purpose; 5 as the Romans likewise were in extreme difficulties, having up to the campaign of Aemilius Paullus made no progress in the war; and as the Aetolians were in a state of unrest, 6 Eumenes thought it was by no means impossible that the Romans would consent to bring the war to a conclusion and make peace; 7 and he considered that he himself was the person best fitted to mediate in the matter and reconcile the two adversaries. 8 Making these reflections to himself he had in the previous year sounded Perseus through Cydas the Cretan as to how much he was willing to pay for the hope of his services. 8 1 This, I think, was the beginning of their overtures  p59 to each other; 2 and as it was a match between two princes, one of whom had the reputation of being most unprincipled and the other most avaricious, the contest proved very ridiculous. 3 For Eumenes on the one hand was holding out all kinds of hopes to Perseus and tempting him with every variety of bait, feeling sure he would catch him by his promises; 4 while Perseus from a distance pretended to rush at these offers and to be coming to an agreement, but could never persuade himself to swallow any of the baits to the extent of making a sacrifice of money. 5 The kind of tussle between the two was as follows. Eumenes asked five hundred talents for keeping quiet in the fourth year of the war and not supporting the Romans either by sea or by land, and fifteen hundred talents for putting an end to the war. For either of the two he promised to give at once hostages and security. 6 Perseus was ready to receive the hostages, and arranged how many they should be, when they should be sent and how they were to be kept in charge by the people of Cnosus. 7 As for the money, he said regarding the five hundred talents that it was disgraceful for the giver and still more so for the receiver to be thought to be hired to keep neutral; but he said he would send Polemocrates to Samothrace with the fifteen hundred talents and then mediate there, Samothrace being part of his own dominions. 8 But Eumenes who, like bad physicians, was more concerned about his retaining fee than about his final fee, renounced his efforts, having found it beyond his power to get the better by his own cunning of the meanness of Perseus; 9 and so, neither of them winning the prize for avarice, they  p61 made a drawn match of it like two good wrestlers. 10 Some of these facts leaked out at the time and others shortly afterwards to the intimate friends of Perseus, from whom I learnt enough to convince me that avarice is, as it were, the tuning-peg of every vice.

9 1 I ask myself further on my own part: Does not avarice make fools of us? 2 For who can help observing the folly of both kings? How could Eumenes expect, in view of the extremely distant terms they were on, to be trusted and to receive such a large sum of money, unable as he was to give Perseus any proper security for its return if he failed to fulfil his promises? 3 And how did he think he could receive such a sum without the Romans finding it out? 4 For if not at once, they would have done so later. 5 So that, in return for the money given him, he was sure to have to reckon on a quarrel with Rome, which would result in the loss not only of the money he had received but of his kingdom and perhaps his life, once he was the declared enemy of Rome. 6 For if now, when he had not done anything but merely had thought of it, he incurred such extreme danger, what was the treatment he would have deserved had he succeeded in carrying out the foregoing design! 7 As to Perseus again, every one must wonder why he did not think it the most advantageous thing for himself and most in his interest to give the money and let Eumenes swallow the bait. 8 For if Eumenes had helped him as he promised, and put an end to the war, the gift would have been worth his while; 9 but if he  p63 had been deceived in this hope, he would certainly at least have involved Eumenes in enmity with Rome, it being in his power to make the transaction public. 10 And it is easy to see, when we think of it, how valuable this would have been to Perseus, whether he were successful in the war or the reverse. 11 For he considered Eumenes to have been the cause of all his misfortunes, and he could not have taken more effectual vengeance on him than by making him the enemy of Rome. 12 What, then, was the reason of this evident folly on both sides? Avarice: what else could we say? For the one prince, to receive a gift which dishonoured him, neglected all other considerations, and undertook to do any dirty service; while the other, to save giving it, was ready to suffer any disaster and shut his eyes to all consequences. 13 Perseus behaved in the same way towards the Galatians and towards Genthius. . . .

Conduct of the Rhodians

10 1 When the question was put to the vote in Rhodes the majority was in favour of sending the envoys to try to make peace. 2 The debate had decided the relative strength of parties in Rhodes 3 in favour of the one which sided with Perseus and against those who were anxious to preserve their country and their laws. 4 The prytaneis hereupon at once appointed envoys to bring the war to an end, sending to Rome Hagepolis, Diocles, and Clinombrotus and to the Roman commander and to Perseus, Damon, Nicostratus, Hagesilochus, and Telephus. 5 Their subsequent proceedings were in accord with this, and even more offensive, making their fault inexcusable. 6 For they at once sent envoys to Crete  p65 to renew friendly relations with the Cretans in general, and to beg them to consider the circumstances and the danger they were in, and to ally themselves with the Rhodian people and have the same enemies and friends. 7 They were also charged to speak to the several cities in the same sense.

(Cp. Livy XLIV.29.6)

11 1 When Parmenion and Morcus the envoys of Genthius, accompanied by Metrodorus, reached Rhodes, and the Rhodian senate met, 2 the sitting was a very stormy one, Deinon and Polyaratus now venturing to speak openly in favour of Perseus, and Theaedetus and his friends being dismayed at what was happening. 3 For the presence of the Illyrian galleys, the large losses of the Roman cavalry, and Genthius's change of attitude weighed on their spirits. 4 So that the sitting ended very much as the one described above had done. 5 For the Rhodians decreed to give a courteous reply to both kings, and inform them that they had resolved to bring about peace and begged them also to be disposed to come to terms. 6 They also entertained the envoys of Genthius very courteously at the public hearth or Prytaneum.

Digression on Method of Writing History

12 1 Other writers again have . . . about the war in Syria. The reason of this I have frequently explained. 2 For when dealing with a subject which is simple and uniform they wish to be thought historians not because of what they accomplish,  p67 but because of the multitude of their books, and to make such an impression as I have described, they are compelled to magnify small matters, 3 to touch up and elaborate brief statements of fact and to convert quite incidental occurrences of no moment into momentous events and actions, describing engagements and pitched battles in which the infantry losses were at times ten men or it may be a few more and the cavalry losses still fewer. 4 As for sieges, descriptions of places, and such matters, it would be hard to describe adequately how they work them up for lack of real matter. 5 But writers of universal history act in just the opposite manner. 6 I should not therefore be condemned for slurring over events, when I sometimes omit and sometimes briefly report things to which others have devoted much space and elaborate descriptions; but I should rather be credited with treating each event on a proper scale. 7 For those authors, when in the course of their work they describe, for instance, the sieges of Phanotea, Coronea, and Haliartus, find it necessary to place before their readers all the devices, all the daring strokes, 8 and in addition to this describe at length the capture of Tarentum, the sieges of Corinth, Sardis, Gaza, Bactra, and above all Carthage, adding inventions of their own; and they by no means approve of me, when I simply give a true and unvarnished account of such matters. 9 The same remarks apply to descriptions of battles, the reports of speeches, and the other parts of history. 10 In all these — I include also subsequent portions  p69 of my work — I may be justly pardoned if I am found to be using the same style, or the same disposition and treatment, or even actually the same words as on a previous occasion; 11 or again should I happen to be mistaken in the names of mountains and rivers or in my statements about the characteristics of places. For in all such matters the large scale of my work is a sufficient excuse. 12 It is only if I am found guilty of deliberate mendacity or if it be for the sake of some profit, that I do not ask to be excused, as I have already stated several times in the course of this work when speaking on this subject.

Genthius of Illyria

(From Athenaeus X.440A; cp. Livy XLIV.30.2)

13 1 In his 29th Book Polybius also states that Genthius, King of Illyria, owing to his intemperate habits, was guilty of many licentious acts, 2 being constantly drunk night and day. Having put to death his brother Plator, who was about to marry the daughter of Monunius, he married the girl himself, and he treated his subjects with great cruelty.

The Campaigns against Perseus

(From Plutarch's Life of Aemilius, 15)

14 1 The first of the officers present who volunteered to lead the force that went to turn the enemy's flank was Scipio Nasica, the son-in‑law of Africanus and afterwards very powerful in the senate, 2 and next Fabius Maximus, the eldest son of Aemilius, who was still quite a young man, got up and proffered his services. 3 This pleased Aemilius, who gave them not so many soldiers as Polybius says but as many  p71 as Nasica himself says in writing to one of the kings about this exploit.

(Suid.; cp. Livy XLIV.35.19)

4 The Romans offered a strong resistance by the aid of their targets and Ligurian shields.

(From Plutarch, Life of Aemilius Paullus, 16)

15 1 Perseus saw Aemilius remaining on his ground, and had no suspicion of the truth, when a Cretan deserter, who had abandoned the Romans on the line of march, informed him of their turning movement. 2 The king was much disturbed; but, without moving his army, placed ten thousand foreign mercenaries and two thousand Macedonians under the command of Milo and sent him off with orders to make haste and occupy the heights. 3 Polybius tells us that Romans surprised this force while still asleep, but Nasica affirms that there was a sharp struggle on the heights.

(Suid.; cp. Plutarch, Aem. 16)

16 1 When there was an eclipse of the moon in the time of Perseus of Macedonia, the report gained popular credence that it portended the eclipse of a king. 2 This, while it lent fresh courage to the Romans, discouraged the Macedonians. 3 So true is the saying that "there are many empty things in war."

(Suid.; cp. Livy XLIV.41.1)

17 1 Aemilius the consul, who had never seen a phalanx until this occasion in the war with Perseus, often confessed afterwards to certain persons in Rome that he had never seen anything more terrible  p73 and dreadful than a Macedonian phalanx, and this although he had witnessed and directed as many battles as any man.

(Cp. Livy XLIV.41.4)

2 Many inventions seem to be plausible and likely to succeed when described; but when put to the test of experience, like false coins exposed to the fire, no longer answer to our first conception of them.

(Suid.; cp. Livy XLIV.42.1)

3 Perseus' one determination had been to conquer or to die; but his courage now gave way and he turned rein and fled as cavalry vedettes do.

(Suid.; cp. Livy, ibid.)

4 The courage of Perseus was exhausted by toil and time like that of athletes in bad condition. For when the danger approached, and it was his duty to fight a decisive battle, his courage broke down.

(From Plutarch, Aemilius Paullus, 19)

18 1 The Macedonian king, as Polybius tells us, at the very beginning of the battle turned rein and rode off to the town, pretending that he was going to sacrifice to Heracles, a god who neither accepts the craven offerings of cowards, nor fulfils unlawful prayers.

(Cp. Livy XLV.3.3)

19 1 At the time when Perseus was beaten and ran away, the senate decided to summon the envoys from Rhodes, who had come with the object of bringing the war with Perseus to an end: 2 Fortune,  p75 as if of set purpose, bringing on the stage the folly of the Rhodians — if indeed we should say that of the Rhodians, and not rather that of the men who had then come to the surface at Rhodes. 3 Agepolis and his colleagues, on entering, said they had come to bring the war to an end; for that the people of Rhodes, when they saw that the war still continued to drag on, and observed that it was unprofitable to all the Greeks and to the Romans themselves owing to its great expense, had decided on this step; 4 but now that the war had terminated in the way that the Rhodians had wished, they congratulated the Romans. Having said this very briefly they departed. 5 But the senate, availing itself of this opportunity and wishing to make and example of the Rhodians, issued an answer, 6 the main tenour of which was that they did not believe that the Rhodians had sent the embassy on behalf of the Greeks or of themselves, but on behalf of Perseus. 7 For if the embassy were on behalf of the Greeks, it would have been a more suitable time to send it then when Perseus was encamped for nearly two years in Thessaly, and was devastating the land and cities of Greece; 8 but from their having neglected to come at that time, and coming now when the Roman legions were encamped in Macedonia, when Perseus was surrounded and had scarcely any hope of escape, 9 it was obvious to anyone who judged correctly that they had sent their embassies with no wish to bring the war to a close, but desiring, as far as lay in their power, to rescue and save Perseus. 10 For this reason, they said, the present was no  p77 moment for doing them favours of returning them a courteous answer. 11 Such were the proceedings in the senate regarding the Rhodian envoys.

Speech of Aemilius Paullus

(Cp. Livy XLV.7.4)

20 1 Aemilius, now speaking in Latin, exhorted those present at the council to learn from what they now witnessed — showing them Perseus who was present — never to boast unduly of achievements and never be overbearing and merciless in their conduct to anyone, in fact never place any reliance on present prosperity. 2 "It is chiefly," he said, "at those moments when we ourselves or our country are most successful that we should reflect on the opposite extremity of fortune; 3 for only thus, and then with difficulty, shall we prove moderate in the season of prosperity. 4 The difference," he said, "between foolish and wise men lies in this, that the former are schooled by their own misfortunes and the latter by those of others."

Reflections of the Fall of Perseus

(Cp. Livy XLV.9.2)

21 1 So then often and bitterly did Perseus​1 call to mind the words of Demetrius of Phalerum. 2 For he, in his treatise on Fortune, wishing to give men a striking instance of her mutability asks them to remember the times when Alexander overthrew the Persian empire, and speaks as follows: 3 "For if you consider not countless years or many generations,  p79 but merely these last fifty years, you will read in them the cruelty of Fortune. 4 I ask you, do you think that fifty years ago either the Persians and the Persian king or the Macedonians and the king of Macedon, if some god had foretold the future to them, would ever have believed that at the time when we live, the very name of the Persians would have perished utterly — the Persians who were masters of almost the whole world — and that the Macedonians, whose name was formerly almost unknown, would now be the lords of it all? 5 But nevertheless this Fortune, who never compacts with life, who always defeats our reckoning by some novel stroke; she who ever demonstrates her power by foiling our expectations, now also, as it seems to me, makes it clear to all men, 6 by endowing the Macedonians with the whole wealth of Persia, that she has but lent them these blessings until she decides to deal differently with them." 7 And this now happened in the time of Perseus. Surely Demetrius, as if by the mouth of some god, uttered these prophetic words. 8 And I, as I wrote and reflected on the time when the Macedonian monarchy perished, did not think it right to pass over the event without comment, as it was one I witnessed with my own eyes; but I considered it was for me also to say something befitting such an occasion, and recall the words of Demetrius. 9 This utterance of his seems to me to have been more divine than that of a mere man. For nearly a hundred and fifty years ago he uttered the truth about what was to happen afterwards.

III. Affairs of Pergamus

22 1 Eumenes, King of Pergamus, after the battle between Perseus and the Romans was over, found himself, as most people say, strangely circumstanced; but, considering the nature of human affairs, it was nothing out of the way. 2 For Fortune is quite capable of dashing reasonable explanations by unexpected blows; and, if she ever helps anyone and throws her weight in the balance, she will again, as if she repented of it, turn the scale against him, and in a moment mar all he has achieved. 3 This is what happened to Eumenes on the present occasion. 4 For, just when he thought that his kingdom stood on a firm footing, and that the future had perfect peace and quiet in store for him, as Perseus and the power of Macedonia had been utterly destroyed, there lighted on him this peril from the Gauls of Asia, who unexpectedly seized on the occasion to attack him.

IV. War between Antiochus and the two brothers Ptolemy

23 1 In the Peloponnesus, when an embassy arrived while it was still winter from both kings, asking for help, there were several very warm debates. 2 Callicrates, Diophanes, and Hyperbatus did not approve of sending help, 3 but Archon, Lycortas, and Polybius were in favour of giving it according to the terms of the existing alliance. 4 For the people had already  p83 proclaimed the younger Ptolemy king owing to the dangerous situation, while the elder one had come down from Memphis and shared the throne with his brother; 5 and as they were in need of assistance from every possible quarter, they sent Eumenes and Dionysodorus on this embassy to the Achaeans begging for a thousand foot and two hundred horse, the whole force to be commanded by Lycortas and the cavalry by Polybius. 6 They also sent a message to Theodoridas of Sicyon begging him to raise a mercenary force of a thousand men. 7 The kings were particularly intimate with the men I have mentioned, owing to the circumstances narrated above. 8 When the envoys arrived, the Achaean Assembly being then in session at Corinth, and when after renewing the friendly relations of the Achaeans and the kings, which were of a very close character, they brought before their eyes the danger in which the kings stood, and begged for help, 9 the Achaean people were ready to go, not only with a part of their forces, but if necessary with the whole, to fight for the two kings, both of whom wore the crown and exercised royal authority. 10 Callicrates and the others, however, opposed it, saying that generally speaking they should not meddle with such matters, and at the present time should most strictly avoid it and give undivided attention to serving the cause of Rome. 11 For this was just the time when a decisive end of the war was expected, as Quintus Philippus was in winter quarters in Macedonia. 24 1 The people were now in doubt, and afraid of failing to please the Romans, when Lycortas and Polybius,  p85 resuming the discussion, adduced several arguments, 2 and especially the fact that in the previous year, when the Achaeans had voted to join the Romans in full force, and sent Polybius as their envoy to propose it, Quintus after thanking them for their zeal, had informed them that he had no need of the proffered help, as he was master of the passes leading to Macedonia. 3 This, they said, proved that the possible need of the Romans for them was a mere pretext for preventing the dispatch of help to the kings. 4 They, therefore, pointing out the imminence of the peril that threatened the kingdom of Egypt, entreated the Achaeans not to neglect this opportunity, but, mindful of their agreement, of the benefits they had received, and especially of their sworn word, confirm the proposed treaty. 5 The Assembly now inclining to send help, Callicrates for the time threw out the resolution, intimidating the magistrates by the assertion that the law gave them no authority to discuss the question of the dispatch of armed help in the popular assembly. 6 When shortly afterwards a meeting was held at Sicyon, at which not only the Achaean senate was present, but all citizens over thirty years of age, several speeches were made; 7 and Polybius especially maintained in the first place that the Romans stood in no need of their assistance — a statement thought to be by no means made at random, as in the previous summer he had been with Quintus Philippus in Macedonia — 8 and said next, that if the Romans did really require their help, the dispatch of the two hundred horse and a thousand foot to Alexander would not make it impossible for the Achaeans to come to the aid of the Romans; for they  p87 could very well raise a force of even thirty or forty thousand men fit to take the field. 9 His speech met with approval, and the people were now disposed to send the help. 10 On the second day, when the law enjoined that those who wished to propose decrees should bring them forward, Lycortas proposed to send the auxiliaries, and Callicrates to send envoys to make peace between the kings and Antiochus. 11 Upon the resolution being proposed there was again a lively debate; but Lycortas and his party had much the best of it. 12 For there was a great difference between the two kingdoms in comparison, 13 since only rare instances could be found in which there had been any close relations between that of Antiochus and Greece, in former times at least 14 — for the present king had acted with conspicuous generosity towards the Greeks — but the favours which the Achaeans had received from the kingdom of Egypt in former times had been so great and frequent, that no one could have expected more. 15 Lycortas, by arguing thus, made a great impression, as the comparison showed the difference to be complete. 16 For while it was not easy to enumerate the gifts conferred by the kings in Alexandria, there was not a single act of kindness of any practical value to be found which the Achaeans had met with from the dynasty of Antiochus.

25 1 Andronidas and Callicrates spoke for a time in favour of making peace; but as no one paid any attention to them, they had recourse to intervention from a higher quarter. 2 For a courier fresh from his  p89 journey appeared in the theatre bearing a letter from Quintus Marcius, in which he begged the Achaeans to follow the Roman policy in attempting to make peace between the kings. 3 Now it was true that the senate had sent envoys headed by Titus Numisius for this purpose; 4 but the result had not been such as to favour this course, for Titus had found it impossible to make peace and had returned to Rome without achieving anything at all. 5 Polybius, however, out of respect for Marcius not wishing to oppose the letter, retired from the discussion; and in this manner the project of the kings to secure help failed, 6 and the Achaeans decided to send envoys to bring about peace, their choice falling on Archon of Aegeira and Arcesilaus and Ariston of Megalopolis. 7 Upon this the envoys from Ptolemy, foiled in their project of getting armed help, handed to the magistrates a letter from the kings which they had ready, begging the Achaeans to send Lycortas and Polybius to help in the war.

26 1 Forgetful of all he had written and spoken Antiochus was making preparations for war with Ptolemy, so that what Simonides said seems to be very true: "It is hard to be good." 2 It is indeed easy to be disposed to act honourably and to strive to do so up to a certain point, but to be consistent and under every circumstance to be steadfast in our purpose, esteeming nothing to be of higher importance than justice and honour, is difficult.

27 1 At the time when Antiochus approached Ptolemy and meant to occupy Pelusium, 2 Caius  p91 Popilius Laenas, the Roman commander, on Antiochus greeting him from a distance and then holding out his hand, handed to the king, as he had it by him, the copy of the senatus-consultum, and told him to read it first, not thinking it proper, 3 as it seems to me, to make the conventional sign of friendship before he knew if the intentions of him who was greeting him were friendly or hostile. 4 But when the king, after reading it, said he would like to communicate with his friends about this intelligence, Popilius acted in a manner which was thought to be offensive and exceedingly arrogant. 5 He was carrying a stick cut from a vine, and with this he drew a circle round Antiochus and told him he must remain inside this circle until he gave his decision about the contents of the letter. 6 The king was astonished at this authoritative proceeding, but, after a few moments' hesitation, said he would do all that the Romans demanded. Upon this Popilius and his suite all grasped him by the hand and greeted him warmly. 7 The letter ordered him to put an end at once to the war with Ptolemy. 8 So, as a fixed number of days were allowed to him, he led his army back to Syria, deeply hurt and complaining indeed, but yielding to circumstances for the present. 9 Popiliusº after arranging matters in Alexandria and exhorting the two kings there to act in common, ordering them also to send Polyaratus to Rome, sailed for Cyprus, wishing to lose no time in expelling the Syrian troops that were in the island. 10 When they arrived, finding  p93 that Ptolemy's generals had been defeated and that the affairs of Cyprus were generally in a topsy-turvy state, they soon made the Syrian army retire from the country, and waited until the troops took ship for Syria. 11 In this way the Romans saved the kingdom of Ptolemy, which had almost been crushed out of existence: 12 Fortune having so directed the matter of Perseus and Macedonia that when the position of Alexandria and the whole of Egypt was almost desperate, all was again set right simply owing to the fact that the fate of Perseus had been decided. 13 For had this not been so, and had not Antiochus been certain of it, he would never, I think, have obeyed the Roman behests.

The Loeb Editor's Note:

1 The subject of the sentence, as given by the epitomator, seems to be Perseus, although the reflection is essentially Polybius's own.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 29 Mar 22